Brodie Vissers is a photographer who never seems to stop traveling across the world. Yet the land- and cityscapes that appear in his photographs are not the main focus; coffee is. A Canadian native, Vissers gained a passion for the specialty industry while working as a barista. Digital scales, various brewing methods, and compact hand grinders appear throughout his imagery. His blog doesn’t just illustrate the recipes he creates, but the people and places behind them. From Berlin to Barcelona, and Tokyo to Iceland, he’s made pour over coffees on top of rocky mountains to the interiors of abandoned buildings. We had the chance to ask him some questions about his global coffee journey.
Tell us – what inspired you to start the Nomad Barista project?
The Nomad Barista is a culmination of my passions. I think travel is more of a habit for me – the need to constantly be moving and exploring, and throughout my travels along with my background in urban design, I started to recognize the deep-rooted connections between coffee and community. Originally, I wanted to see if I could use my passion for coffee as a way to facilitate living in different places by offering skills as a barista, but I realized it would also be very important to form a solid body of knowledge and experience in the coffee industry and examine, through first-hand encounters, how different coffee people are approaching these connections around the world. I wanted to create a project that could essentially follow me anywhere in the world and allow me to build relationships with others in the industry.
From your Instagram feed, it looks like you were brewing in some pretty unique locations. Can you talk to us about one of them?
I definitely didn't go anywhere without my brew kit. I think the most memorable was probably on the top of a volcano in East Java called Kawah Ijen. After hiking for several hours in pitch black, and descending down into the rocky crater to meet some of the sulfur miners and capture them at work, I continued my trek to the very top. By this point, the sun was rising, and with the help of my little thermos for hot water, brewed up a well-needed cup of local java. Honestly, one of the best cups I ever made, haha.
What was one of your favorite experiences during your travels?
Wow, there are so many amazing memories, it’s hard to narrow it down to favorites, but Japan being one of my fav places in the world, I’ll start there. Taking place in Nishi, Osaka, in a beautiful space called Takamura Wine + Coffee Roasters, I approached the baristas behind the counter as I always do, sharing a bit about my project, and asking questions about how things came to be with their shop. They were so excited, like almost every other Japanese barista I met, that they went out of their way to share with me the joys of Panama’s illustrious Geisha varietal, La Esmeralda, in my own private cupping, haha. I was blown away at their enthusiasm and commitment to coffee and that they went the extra mile to support my project and musings.
What’s your advice for those who would like to brew on the go or travel globally as a barista?
Be prepared for taking a lot of flack from your travel partners or weird looks from complete strangers when you pull out your entire kit. Don't let it stop you though; some rituals are worth making a priority, and they’ll thank you when you share. In terms of brewing, I think hot water is probably the most easily attainable part of any coffee kit, but sometimes the water quality is out of your control. I'd really like to get a super minimal kettle to stash in my luggage so that I can heat up bottled water anywhere. A solid thermos to keep that water the right temperature is also essential when you might not have a power source, like on the Shinkansen or while mount climbing.
What’s next for you?
I'd like to continue learning, meeting passionate people, and using photography to facilitate my lust for adventure. I'll be collaborating on an espresso tricycle, Velopresso, in downtown Toronto this summer, infiltrating local festivals, events, and street corners with an elevated coffee presence. Come September, I'm really hoping I can make it back to Barcelona where community collaboration is really strong and the local specialty coffee scene is growing super quickly. I've been really inspired by what's happening there, and I'm excited for some upcoming collaborations that are in the works. I'll keep you posted!
Thanks for the interview!
All photos featured by Vissers.
You can find Brodie and follow his global coffee journey on his website.